Back when this website was on it’s first, wobbly, little legs, I wrote a Top Ten British Comedies, which did pretty well compared to some of other articles we posted ’round that time. Tragically, however, it’s crap.
To rectify this, I’ve done another one, which is what this is, yeah?
I’m not liking where this intro’s going.
Anyway, whereas that last list was restricted to British comedies, this is open to all shows, regardless of genre or nationality, but I’m omitting documentaries for some reasons that’s really important and definitely isn’t an excuse for being uncultured. Keep in mind though that there’ll still be loads of British comedies. Yep. Alright, shall we?
10. The Simpsons (1989- )
What is Reuben’s favourite TV show is, for me, a hotly-contested No. 10 spot, ain’t that bloody funny? EH? AIN’T THAT FLIPPIN’ ‘ILARIOUS? However, that doesn’t in any way, shape or form take away from The Simpsons’ overall greatness, obviously. The much imitated, never bettered “dysfunctional family” gimmick is at it’s best in this seminal sitcom. Though I’m not as fiercely protective of the first 8 seasons or whatever, I can agree that the early seasons house my favourite episodes, like Mr. Plow up there. That being said, if a newer one’s on the telly, I’m not not going to watch it, it’s The Simpsons.
9. That Mitchell And Webb Look (2006-2010)
Probably the lowest dropper of the list, That Mitchell And Webb Look was originally No. 3 on my first list. However, thanks to that old “tastes changin'” chestnut, it’s daan ‘ere naa. However, it’s ability to make me completely roll over in tears of laughter due to sketches like NumberWang and Sir Digby Chicken Caeser, have helped it remain in this list. The absurdity of the sketches mixed with the dry, British humour that I love David Mitchell for makes for one of the best shows in the medium.
8. Black Books (2000-2004)
Another drop, but only a slight one, from 7 to 8, Black Books is the epitome of British comedy, yet not necessarily the best example of it. Nonetheless, what makes this show is not the writing or the storylines, both, however, are great, it’s the performances. Notably, Dylan Moran, as the titular Bernard Black, gives one of the best, funniest performances I’ve seen in any media, film or TV, with his perpetual state of drunkeness being the source of a lot of the comedy. Moreover, Bill Bailey as Manny brings a much needed source of Bailey’s trademark surrealist humour, which, again, I adore. These two performances carry the show and make it one of the funniest comedies out there.
7. I’m Alan Partridge (1997-2002)
Like Mitchell & Webb, at times, Alan Partridge has me in absolute stitches. Yet again, another slight drop from 5 to 7, I’m Alan Partridge has so many giffable and quotable moments, I could spend ages talking about them, but I won’t, ’cause I’m lazy. In short, every single episode has some sort of memorable moment in it, whether it be “Smell my cheese, you mother!” or “You’re a mentalist!” or “I’ve got an udder on my leg.” Y’see?
Twelfty-Seven. The League Of Gentlemen (1999 – 2002)
Like Alan Partridge, this show is marvellously quotable. However, what puts it above Mr. Partridge is the subtle undertones of horror throughout. As piece of media, it can’t really be flawed. There are countless amounts of characters intertwined through a small village and when I say intertwined, I mean intertwined. The amount of thought and overall talent that has gone into all three seasons of this show is really impressive. Moreover, the fact that the comedy is broken up by bits of geniune creepiness really sweetens the deal for someone with quite a dark sense of humour.
5. The Office (2001-2003)
Very much the best example of dry, awkward British humour, The Office is very, very much Ricky Gervais’, a really funny man with many a great show, masterpiece. As well as the stashload of quotable lines, this show is also surprisingly tender, considering the final episode, especially (*sniff**sniff*). Although the standout of this show is obviously David Brent, friend first, boss second, probably an entertainer third. So much so he’s getting the Partridge treatment in August, and I will be in attendance. The Office’s pioneering mockumentary style and evidentally near-the-knuckle-at-times one liners make rightfully one of the most treasured shows in our fair nation’s history, not to mention the most imitated…
4. The Fast Show (1994-2000)
I don’t even know where to begin. The Fast Show is the pinnacle of sketch comedy. The asstonnes of memorable characters, quotes and sketches from this show is quite amazing. However, this might just be due to how many time I’ve watched them (a lot). One of my first exposures to proper good comedy, The Fast Show combines utter surrealism with what-I-assume accurate observations, leading to a unique brand of humour that has been imitated to good effect in other shows, but it doesn’t beat some of the brilliance in this show.
3. My Name Is Earl (2005-2009)
Another one on Reuben’s list, yet much, much higher. Like many others on this list, this show packs a whole lot of character throughout it’s tragically cut-short run. Thankfully, however, the sheer content in the four seasons makes it very easy to rewatch over and over, this also being helped by how each episode tells a story of it’s own. However, don’t be fooled, it packs the funny like little else. Mainstays throughout the show, like Randy and Joy, provide a constant stream of hilarity, while guests like Crazy Donny and Ralph just elevate every now and then. The humour manages to be extremely American but not extremely annoying, which is a rare occurance, and is the best show to come from across the pond.
2. Sherlock (2010- )
The only non-comedy on the list, this is rightly deserved of it’s place here. Written by League of Gentleman Mark Gatiss and Dr. Who reviver Steven Moffat, this reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterworks is absolutely amazing. Though there are only 10 episodes in total, which averages to two a year, from the first you can see why it has the following it has. The gripping storylines are written in such a convoluted way that you can’t help but be jaw-dropped by the finale of each and every episode. On top of this, Cummerband Benderbitch puts in a top-notch performance, one that’ll probably define his entire career, as a less I-want-to-punch-you-in-your-damn-face, more trench-coat-wearing-awesomeness version of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Accompanying him is the always likable Martin Freeman as Watson, who gives the voice of sanity and light edge of comedy that lines the show. There is nothing not to like, down to the pulse-pounding action, subtle comedy and absolutely stunningly written plotlines. This is the Phantom Pain of television, the gold standard of anything put to the medium.
Time for some brilliant shows that aren’t as good as The Simpsons; Onorbal menshuns.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013- )
Mock The Week (2005- )
The IT Crowd (2006-2013)
Regular Show (2009- )
Adventure Time (2010- )
Impractical Jokers (2011- )
Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out (1990-1991)
Father Ted (1995-1998)
Big Train (1998-2002)
15 Storeys High (2002-2004)
So our No. 2 was “the gold standard”, so what could be better than that. Well, it’d have to be something pretty darn good, that’s fer sure.
1. The Mighty Boosh (2003-2007)
ICE FLOW NOWHERE TO GO ICE FLOW NOWHERE TO GO LOST IN THE BLINDING WHITENESS OF THE TUNDRAAAAAAAAAAAA check ‘im out.
I love this show, so, so much. The surreal, anarchic humour shaped my own and, anyone who knows me can agree, I try to quote it, or talk like the characters in it, every day. The characters, designed by Noel Fielding himself, are some of the best ever created. The aforementioned Fielding, as Vince Noir, is definitely the best thing about the show, though rivaled by Howard, or Julian Barratt as he’s known in real life, have added so many phrases to my oddly used vocabulary. That, along with the fact that Reuben’s just started getting into it, has led to me singing the Tundra song on more than one occasion lately. That’s barely scratched the surface of how I feel about this show. If anything has shaped the way I present myself to this day, it’s this.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations